quaking aspen, previously

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A light year for blogging, n’est ce pas? Well, November approaches, NaBloPoMo and all, and I feel like shaking it up a little in anticipation of a return to blogging. Imagine – the address will match the title! I think it’s for the best. (Especially as it often seems no one can spell/pronounce falwyn.)

http://quakingaspen.wordpress.com

Yup, so update your feeds and all – I’ll be over there from now on. I’ll leave this blog up, but stripped down to the main page. See you over there.

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Cathy Zielske is teaching an online class at Big Picture Scrapbooking – it’s called Me: The Abridged Version (MeTAV for short), but is essentially a slightly revamped, online version of the EOL class she used to teach at CKU. (Too many letters! CKU = Creating Keepsakes University, a scrapbooking conference thing. EOL = Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, inspired by the book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Yes, I have mentioned it before. Love it, love it, love it. So much in fact that I now own a hardcover copy as well as a paperback. And I may have to get an extra paperback to loan out. We’ll see.)

The concept of doing an EOL/MeTAV album isn’t hard to put together, but I’m stoked for the class experience and the deadlines – I think I signed up for the MeTAV class the first day. (I tried back a year or so ago to follow along with some people who were making EOL albums on Digishoptalk, but never got much past making a list of words.) This form of organizing your memories and telling your stories is so deeply appealing to me, I’m very excited to actually get it into album form.

In my mind, the MeTAV album will be a kind of snapshot of my current life, at just-about-to-be-30. I’ll probably do it again, part two, in another ten years or so. (And I wish I could find a place I could make a proper bound book of my 8.5×11″ pages – portrait, not landscape. What’s the deal, Shutterfly? and just about every other place I’ve checked. Why can we have 11×8.5 but not vice versa??) I do plan to do all the pages digital – Cathy is providing templates, and I found the perfect kit for me to use (Refreshing it’s called).

But I also have a lot of memories I want to capture from my childhood, more than would comfortably fit into the MeTAV album, which is supposed to be limited in size and (maybe?) scope. So I thought, I’d really like to do an EOL album focused just on my childhood. Plus I’m always thinking of additional details or memories I want to include, so I need it to be expandable. (Cathy’s designs are awesome, but because they have left and right facing pages it would be hard to add to after the fact.)

This is what I came up with:

eol-title web

My album is an 8.5×11 binder, an American Crafts corduroy binder, actually, much like the MeTAV class one, though green. I plan to include both digi pages, and paper pages (scanning tons of photos actually makes me want to do some paper scrapping; must be because I feel safe that there’s a back-up digital copy of the pictures). I’ve decided, rather than fret about using the exact same papers, or worrying about trying to get the paper and digi match, I will simply make each page/entry separate, but each more or less monochromatic, with plenty of white and kraft paper thrown into the mix. The section pages and the title and last page (made in paper; the images on this page are the sample ones I made to help me figure out which color should go where – but see, a rainbow of colors plus kraft and white as neutrals) should help tie it all together. I’ll file things alphabetically, but only by first letter, not worry much about true alphabetization. The focus will definitely be on the words, more than the photos, but I’ll probably use 2 or so photos per layout/entry (or stickers/elements occasionally for photo-less entries), and I’ll frequently use similar page layouts, even though the colors and paper will change.

I also plan to throw in a few sheets of baseball card page protectors; they hold ATC sized cards and some of the smaller memories I’ll write on cards, decorate, and insert in those.

Sorry, no real examples to show you yet, other than this title and section page. I’ll link to it when I’ve finished some – right now I’ve been collecting words, memories, and starting to type out some of the entries. I will probably have to do an entirely separate album for “family dialect” though.

I love this format so much. It helps me focus on the stories, which to me, are the absolute best part.

eol-section

I am a big supporter of idea notebooks. I (kind of) consider myself an expert in them – or at the very least a success story. Because I’ve been keeping mine for years now (as I wrote about some a couple of years ago) and it works so well for me – I’m on notebook number 41 (a couple from high school, but really I’ve been numbering them since ’99 – good golly, does that mean I’ve been at this for ten years? I believe it does!). So I’ll share my personal tips.

I think of mine as “writing notebooks,” but they’re really a combination of ideas, lists, a daily journal, sketchbook, writing exercises, the occasional pasted-in ad or photo, copied quotes, and whatever else. I also keep “kid notes” in the first few pages of each one, funny things my kids say or do, milestones, things like that, very useful for scrapbook journaling which I then (when I finish the notebook and start a new one) transfer to a binder where I keep all of them together. And yes, this is all about physical notebooks, though I know a lot of people like to keep their version of the Idea Notebook on the computer or some other device – for me, actual paper is simple, inexpensive, with no learning curve, no problem with batteries or power outages or crashing – basically, no excuses. Also, it’s what I know.

Use just one notebook.

Buy or denote it specifically as an idea book but DON’T use a fancy hardbound beautiful book. Of my 41 books, only the one I’m on right now is hardbound – always before I have used spiral notebooks. It sounds silly, but it’s not – I love beautiful notebooks but I was ALWAYS too intimidated to actually write in them. I didn’t want to mess them up, or I felt like what I wrote in them had to be Good, or Brilliant!, it couldn’t just be average or (heaven forbid) bad, scribbled out, or a mistake.

One of my favorite sayings is: “Perfect is pretty, but finished is BEAUTIFUL.” That feeling of perfectionism was stopping me, so just using a regular, one subject spiral notebook made it so I could write anything, and it was okay. (Also spirals, even the awesome spirals with pretty covers at Target, are fairly inexpensive, so I can always get another easily – just that much less pressure, unlike the beautiful leather hardback books that cost $20 or more.) Even then, sometimes the first page of a notebook – all blank and scary – is a little intimidating, so I always pick a couple of inspirational quotes for the very first page, sometimes with a theme; that way I don’t have to write my own words on it.

If for whatever reason you really want to use a hardbound book, that’s fine, of course, but maybe try the quotes-on-the-first-page thing or something. I’ve even heard of people who scribble all over the first or second page of the book – then they can say to themselves, oh look, it’s already messed up, now I can write whatever I want. (If you don’t have this perfectionistic hangup of “Oh, I don’t want to mess it up!” well, then hooray for you! I will still be your friend. Probably.)

The other thing is that you don’t have to use regular lines – I like graph paper personally, or once you get practice, totally blank sheets can be freeing. I started with regular spirals – in fact, I got a box of plain ol’ spirals on sale for dirt cheap soon after I started. After a while I started decorating those with stickers. Now I usually get one with a pretty cover from Target. You can absolutely decorate them if you like – but I would recommend NOT doing this to start with, as it can so easily become one more thing you get hung up on and never get past. Start using your notebook first – then embellish if you want to.

Always keep it with you.

It’s not a lot of use to you if you can’t record something in it at any time. I buy my purses so that they fit my notebooks. You COULD do it the other way around though. 🙂 I generally prefer to write in full size spirals, 8.5×11, but of course you could use a smaller one.

If I were giving advice (oh wait, I am!) I would say try setting a timer and writing for five or ten minutes in it each day, just to get into the habit of knowing it’s there, and using it. You could write to-do lists, a draft of a letter to a person or company, rough draft journaling for a scrapbook page, draw a sketch of a magazine ad for later use on a layout, make a list of stories you still want to tell on scrapbook pages, brainstorm ideas for upcoming projects, or whatever applies to you.

Number your idea notebooks.

Like I said – I am on notebook number 41. I know this because I, well, number them. (Revolutionary, right? LOL.) I used to write the number (and the dates it covered, January to May of 2001 or whatever) on the inside cover – now I use a white sticker label and put it on the back top corner of the book, but whatever. But I do think that numbering them has helped me stick with it – it gives me a sense of progress, and helps me stay with just one notebook. The one notebook thing is important because otherwise I am tempted to start separate ones for different subjects and projects. And that way madness lies. Or at least, that way a pile of scattered, random notebooks and papers lies, and then I give it up.

A couple of ideas for fine-tuning:

As I just mentioned, I put a label on the back of each notebook as I finish it with the number and the dates. If I did hardcovers I would put this info on the spine, but I’ve already discussed that.

Mostly I enjoy just putting my lists and so on wherever I want in the book – but occasionally I’ll be keeping a list that I know I’ll refer to a lot and want to know where it is. My answer to that is either use post-its as markers on the page so I can find it, or I’m trying something new – use a punch or a small cup, make two circles, paste them back to back over one piece of paper, as a tab several pages in from the back of the notebook. Then I put some lists, or projects in progress notes back there, where I can find them more easily.

Anyway, those are my (extremely long and overly wordy) tips on idea notebooks. Mine are such an indispensible part of my life now, I hope this helps someone out there.

How had I never seen this before? I don’t know, but it’s REALLY FRIGGIN FUNNY, especially at 1 in the morning, with your siblings.

Magical leopluridons and a bridge of hope and wonder.
Shun the non-believer! Shhhhhhh-uuuuuu-nnnuh.

This might be the best film I’ll see all year.

Have you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (i.e. CPSIA)? It’s a piece of legislation initially prompted by all the problems with lead in toys over the past couple of years. The motives behind it are good, I think, but unfortunately the execution and wording of it is beyond ludicrous. Here is an excellent article in Forbes that summarizes the situation – go read it.

It would be awfully nice if people could think through potential consequences before passing a law. There’s definitely a reason that there’s a site called National Bankruptcy Day on this topic. It’s not just toys – it’s ANY product made for children under 12. Not to mention other unintended reprecussions: What about thrift and secondhand stores? As it stands they would be held liable for everything sell. Sure, maybe you don’t want to buy certain older toys secondhand anyway, but we’re also talking about all clothing, coats, shoes, etc. According to the law as it stands, it should all be thrown in the landfill, and we should all be forced to buy everything new. What about libraries? All those dangerous books for kids that haven’t been tested for lead!

I’m a mom. I was certainly disturbed, to say the least, by the lead in toys (mainly from China). One of my personal solutions to that was to buy mostly hand- or locally-made toys for my kids this Christmas, for example. To cut back on plastics and go for natural materials instead. However, my four year old son LOVES superheroes, which means I’m not entirely turning my back on toys made by big companies (which means made in China). So of course I want to be able to know that they’re safe.

BUT SURELY I CAN HAVE THAT ASSURANCE WITHOUT IT DRIVING SMALL TOY COMPANIES AND LOCAL CRAFTERS OUT OF BUSINESS. After all, I have friends (in real life, even, and more on the internet) who sell children’s products both online and off, who will be devestated by this law as it currently stands. I myself would like to eventually sell some toys on etsy and don’t want to have to commit a FELONY to do it. I believe the two things – keeping our kids safe and supporting small, often local, businesses – do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.

They can do better. And if they can’t, well, someone else should be doing it.

The CPSIA was supposed to go into effect on February 10th. I am happy to report that it has been postponed for another year, during which time we can hopefully FIX it (or else start all over, for crying out loud). But now that we have time to effect change, that is exactly when we need to push harder.

The Handmade Toy Alliance site has a page on how you can help with very convenient links for contacting your Congressperson and Senators. PLEASE go there, I promise it doesn’t take long, and tell them that they can do better on this.

Relevant links all in one spot (plus my sidebar button):

  • In: NaBloPoMo
  • Comments Off on one stinkin’ day

NaBloPoMo 08 loser badge

ETA: Remember how I said I couldn’t think of anything for making my own loser badge, so I just altered one? That one is still below, but of course after I turned off my computer and got into bed I had four or five brilliant ideas. The above was my favorite. Get it?

Yep, that’s right, one stinkin’ day. And so early on, too. Well, here’s to pressing on anyway, that’s like winning, right?

nablopomo08 almostdidit

Original badge by the talented Dory.

Ooo! Ooo! this is also so awesome. (Found on the NaBloPoMo site.)

i blew nablopomo but i'm SOOOOO cute

i blew nablopomo but i


TDD rocks

Please spread the word



Here's my post on the topic.